Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
A hotly anticipated game of musical chairs is underway: The charismatic conductor Gustavo Dudamel is leaving Los Angeles to become the new music and artistic director of the New York Philharmonic.
The 42-year-old Dudamel will officially step into the role of leading the Philharmonic at the beginning of the 2026-27 season. As of the 2025-26 season, he will serve as the New York orchestra's music director designate, and his full contract as music and artistic director will last for five years.
Dudamel has served as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic — and, more broadly, as one of that city's most hailed high-culture heroes — since 2009. He concurrently serves as music director of the Paris Opera, a post he has held since 2021, and as music director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, which he has led since 1999.
In a press release sent to NPR Tuesday afternoon by the New York Philharmonic, the Venezuelan-born Dudamel said: "Today, above all, I am grateful. I am grateful to the musicians and leadership of the New York Philharmonic as we embark upon this new and beautiful journey together; to my beloved family at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and YOLA [the Youth Orchestra of Los Angeles] for helping me to learn and grow through countless challenges and triumphs; and to my Maestro Abreu [the conductor José Antonio Abreu, his early mentor in Caracas] and the musicians of Venezuela who have been there with me since the beginning. As the great poet Federico García Lorca said: 'Every step we take on earth brings us to a new world.' "
Although there was high speculation that Dudamel might earn this podium in New York, his appointment is already being hailed as something of an East Coast coup. His predecessor at the New York Philharmonic, the Dutch conductor Jaap van Zweden, abruptly announced in September 2021 that he would be departing, citing a pandemic-era revisiting of his personal priorities.
The New York Philharmonic's outgoing chief executive officer, Deborah Borda, has worked closely with Dudamel in the past; before her arrival in New York, she served in the same role at the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years — and brought in Dudamel there. Borda also led the recent massive renovation of David Geffen Hall, the New York Philharmonic's home venue, which just reopened this past October.
Dudamel's hire in New York means that the Los Angeles Philharmonic is now officially on the hunt for a new music director of its own.
The news of Dudamel's signing was first reported by the New York Times Tuesday afternoon.